O's game blog: John Means makes long-awaited return as O's host St. Louis

John Means' long road back to a major league mound will finally end tonight. His last MLB game was April 13, 2022 versus Milwaukee. Later that month he underwent Tommy John surgery. 

It looked like Means would return by mid-season this year, but in late May he had a setback with a strained muscle in his upper back. And finally tonight he makes his first big league outing since that Milwaukee game. 

Means has pitched in six minor league rehab games, going 1-1 with a 3.74 ERA over 21 2/3 innings. He pitched three times at Double-A Bowie and the last three times with Triple-A Norfolk.

With the Tides he went 1-0 with a 2.51 ERA, allowing four earned runs in 14 1/3 innings with six walks, 12 strikeouts and a .216 batting average against. 

He threw 72 pitches for Norfolk on Aug. 25, and then 86 on Aug. 31. He was backed off to 67 in his most recent game last Wednesday when he allowed six hits and three runs over five innings.

The Orioles (91-52) have a three-game lead atop the American League East over Tampa Bay after Monday's win over the Cardinals to open a three-game series.

The Orioles have scored 48 runs in their last five games, scoring 10 or more four times in that span. They have plated 74 runs the last nine games, and 155 in going 17-5 the last 22 games. In that stretch, the team has hit .304 with an .859 OPS.

With 19 regular-season games left, the O's need to finish 9-10 or better to record a 100-win season. They are currently on a 103-win pace.

Baltimore is 8-2 in September, 37-17 in the second half and 32-15 in series-opening games.

St. Louis' starter tonight is Adam Wainwright (3-11, 8.19 ERA), who has had a terrible year, one season after going 11-12 with a 3.71 ERA in 32 starts in 2022.

Wainwright, who has had injured list stints this season due to a groin strain and a right shoulder strain, has allowed six runs or more four times his past six games. In those six contests, he is 0-6 with a 10.59 ERA and 1.090 OPS against.

For the season, he has allowed 140 hits in 89 innings for an average of 14.2 per nine innings. Opponents have hit .356 with an OPS of 1.013 against Wainwright.

He is facing the O's for just the second time in his career. The Orioles are one of just four big league teams (also the Cardinals, Rangers, Yankees) that he has no career wins against.

His only prior outing against the Orioles came on June 17, 2017 at Camden Yards, when he allowed a career-high nine runs, including three homers. He lasted just 1 2/3 innings, the shortest start in his major league career at the time.

Wainwright is 4-5, 6.54 ERA in 12 career starts versus AL East teams. 

Cedric Mullins hit his third career grand slam last night and his second of this year in the 11-5 win. He is 4-for-11 this year batting with the bases loaded with two homers and 16 RBIs.

Baltimore has hit six slams this year - fifth-most in MLB and their most in a season since also hitting six in 2017. The last time the O's hit at least seven slams in a single season was 1998 with seven and the record since the team moved to Baltimore in 1954 is 11 in 1996.

There have been eight grand slams hit at Oriole Park this year, tied with Busch Stadium in St. Louis for the most in MLB.

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